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Asthma Drug Deemed Safe for Children

Xopenex can be used in smaller doses for those above age 6

FRIDAY, Feb. 1, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A drug that relieves the symptoms of asthma in adults has now been approved for use by children.

The Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for Xopenex (levalbuterol) to be used by those 6 and older. Xopenex, made by Sepracor Inc., won FDA approval in 1999 for use by people above the age of 12.

Specifically, Xopenex is used to treat a type of asthmatic onset called bronchospasm, which causes blood vessels in the lungs to constrict. When this happens, the victim experiences shortness of breath and often gasps for air.

Xopenex is a prescription drug, and it's administered through an atomizer called a nebulizer.

Incidents of childhood asthma have not declined, and the American Lung Association says the number of deaths attributed to asthma has increased 117 percent since 1979. More than 14.6 million Americans suffer from asthma. More than 8 million are under the age of 18.

Here is the consumer information on Xopenex provided by the FDA since the 1999 approval.

And if you're interested in the devastating effect asthma has on both children and adults, the American Lung Association has this excellent question-and-answer page.

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